plural noun

jim·​jams ˈjim-ˌjamz How to pronounce jimjams (audio)

Did you know?

When jimjams entered English in the mid-19th century, it probably referred to a specific kind of jitters - the "delirium tremens," a violent delirium caused by excessive drinking. Jimjams is not particularly common today, but when it is used in current American English it means simply jitters. Etymologists aren't sure about the origin of the term. Some speculate that it came about as an alteration of delirium tremens. Others, though uncertain of the origin of jim and jam, notice that the word follows a pattern of similar words in which one sound is repeated or altered slightly. Interestingly, other words for jitters were formed in the same repetitive way - whim-whams and heebie-jeebies are examples.

Word History


perhaps alteration of delirium tremens

First Known Use

1852, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of jimjams was in 1852


Dictionary Entries Near jimjams

Cite this Entry

“Jimjams.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jimjams. Accessed 4 Dec. 2023.

Medical Definition


noun plural
jim·​jams ˈjim-ˌjamz How to pronounce jimjams (audio)
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